Cottage Safety Tips

Cottage Safety Tips

Cottage Safety

A common Toronto joke is that if you don’t own a cottage, you need to find someone who does! Going “up north” to the cottage is an Ontario tradition with deep roots, and it’s easy to see why. Waking up to a sunrise over a placid lake, reading a good book in a hammock under the trees, and toasting marshmallows with the kids over a campfire are some of the best memories you can make. If you are one of the lucky Ontarians with a cottage, you know what joys can be found at the lake. But going to the cottage isn’t all rest and relaxation: there are many tasks associated with keeping a cottage in good repair, for example. And because people are often out of their ordinary “element” when they’re in cottage country, making safety rules for the cottage can be very important.

Here are some aspects to consider when thinking about cottage safety:

  • Be Prepared. When you’re in a remote location, you need to have emergency supplies on hand. Create a Disaster Preparedness Kit, which can help you survive during an extreme weather event. Having a power generator can help during outages. Plenty of canned goods in the pantry will ensure that you’ll have something to eat in case roads become impassable.
  • First Aid. At the cottage, you may be far from a hospital emergency room, and with active people in the woods, accidents can happen. Have a well-stocked First Aid Kit that includes supplies for big emergencies as well as lots of items for minor scrapes, cuts, sunburns, rashes, and insect bites.
  • Water Safety. Because cottage life usually includes fun on the water, it’s important to set some rules and enforce them. Children should never be allowed to swim without supervision, for example. Even children who know how to swim can drown under the wrong circumstances. If boating is an option, observe all of Ontario’s boat safety rules. Check the boat’s safety before going out on the water. Make sure everyone has life jackets that fit properly, and, if engaging in water-skiing or tubing, take a spotter along. Use care and attention while piloting a speedboat so as not to collide with other boats; keep the propeller blades away from swimmers.
  • Animals. Cottages are often in the midst of animal habitats. While most wild animals prefer to avoid human contact, make sure that you don’t encourage them to visit. Put away food, don’t feed wild animals, and teach children how to avoid disturbing animal dens or nests.
  • Fire Safety. If you have campfires, practice fire safety. Keep water nearby to douse any spreading flames. Keep small children far enough away from the fire and the barbecue to ensure that they won’t be accidentally burned.

In addition, work to make the cottage itself as safe as possible. Many cottages were built in by-gone eras, and may have problems such as electrical wiring that’s not up to code. In addition, cottages are subject to the elements in a way that city housing may not be. Shingles may blow off, causing leaks, for instance. Small animals such as mice may decide to invade during the winter when you’re not there, or a bird may find its way inside. Maintain the cottage so as to avoid these sorts of issues.

As you do with your main residence, make sure that fire safety devices are up to date and operational. You’ll need working smoke detectors in strategic places, CO alarms, and fire extinguishers. Don’t allow smoking in the cottage, and make sure that there is a pail full of sand available for any outdoor smokers. If you have a fireplace, make sure that the chimney is clean and unobstructed, and that the area surrounding the fireplace is adequately fireproofed. When storing firewood, keep it far away from the cottage’s walls. Clean any dry leaves or sticks out of eavestroughs and rain gutters. In addition, make sure your cottage’s address or civic number is visible for any emergency vehicles.

One problem that sometimes arises at the cottage is excessive drinking. When people are on holiday they may start drinking earlier and they may drink more alcohol than they normally do. This can lead to poor judgement, and, around water, this can be deadly. If you are hosting guests, remind them of safe drinking limits and offer plenty of food to help counteract the effects of alcohol. Remind them, too, to remain hydrated and out of the sun during peak hours.

And finally, before leaving for the cottage, make sure that your vehicle is in good working order. Check brakes, tires, fluid levels, and fill the tank with gas. If an issue arises, you’ll want to make sure that you’re able to get someone out for medical attention as quickly as possible.

Experience true peace of mind at the cottage by ensuring that everyone who enjoys it stays safe and sound!